The halls of the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta thrummed with excited people of all sizes and ages, from tiny babies to senior citizens, many in costume and all looking happy at CONjuration 2016, a convention for fans of Harry Potter and magical fantasy that took place Nov. 4-6.
It was indeed magical, with panels not only on Harry Potter but about TV shows like Stranger Things and Supernatural, and scholarly nonfiction discussions of exorcism and the beginnings of witchcraft among other topics.
There were opportunities for tarot readings and lessons in herbology and mead-making. There were magic shows and games. Music events took place throughout the three days. Two groups, Tuatha Dea and Carolina Caille, performed Celtic-based music in very different styles. A pair of twins, suitably called The Harp Twins, played classic rock on harps. It was a constant smorgasbord of entertainment and often enlightenment.
In addition, you could shop at the vendors’ tables and the dealers’ room, also known as Diagon Alley. You could grab a bite to eat or a drink and meet up with old friends and make new ones.
Cosplay, in which people dress up in costumes of their favorite fictional characters, has become a much larger part of the convention over the past four years, and since this is a family-friendly convention, it was a joy to see little Potters and Hermiones running around. In fact, my favorite moment at this year’s event involved a tiny Hermione chasing after a perfectly coiffed and robed boy only slightly bigger, yelling, “Draco Malfoy! You come back here!”
The beauty of fan conventions is they take you completely out of your normal routine. A well-run convention run by people who are true fans themselves and with staff who volunteer for love of the con really lets you feel that you are temporarily entering an alternate reality with very few worries. That is what CONjuration does, and that is pure magic.
Next year’s CONjuration takes place again at the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta.